Now Open: Greater Toronto Art 2024, March 22–July 28.

Basma Alsharif

Trompe l’Oeil

July 18, 2020
–July 18, 2020

Basma Alsharif, Trompe l’Oeil, 2016, HD video, 8′00″.

A Trompe l’Oeil is a trick of the eye.

Trompe l’Oeil is a highly edited series of actions—banal, domestic, repetitive—all set to a vinyl recording of stock sound effects made for films. The familiarity of many of the scenes lures us into an unsettling composition of monotonous experience that sometimes harmonizes and sometimes jars with the unrelated audio references. The video Trompe l’Oeil is normally presented within a broader installation that includes images and prints from colonial archives, set within a mise-en-scène of furniture and home decor. Alsharif’s work often plays with constructions of time and history to disrupt how we understand and read the past.

Trompe l’Oeil was exhibited in Basma Alsharif’s solo exhibition at MOCA in 2019 along with three other installations: The Story of Milk and Honey, 2011, Girls Only, 2014 and A Philistine, 2018. The project was supported by Mophradat Consortium Commissions.

Recommended Age: Grade 10 and up

  • The title of the work, Trompe L’Oeil, translates to “a trick of the eye.”
    • What do you think this title is referring to? What is the trick of the eye?
  • Listen to the stock sound effects that play throughout the film.
    • Do any of them sound familiar?
    • How does the way the sounds are layered with the rapidly changing video clips influence your interpretation of the work?
  • The film has been cut and edited so that it plays as a repetitive series of fragmented domestic scenes.
    • How does the piece make you feel? 
  • After spending so much time in our homes lately, how does this work resonate with you? If you were to film a compilation of scenes to represent how you spend your days at home, what would you include?
  • If you could ask the artist a question about the piece, what would you like to know? 

Past Shift Key Programmes

A still from Cecilia Vicuña "Paracas" (1983)
Cecilia Vicuña
A Still from Cauleen Smith "Pilgrim" (2017)
Cauleen Smith
Mona Hatoum
Aura Satz
Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)